Another NASCAR Silly Season In The Books
It all began back in November when Jeff Gordon took the Checkered Flag in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at the Homestead/Miami International Speedway. Jeff won his second race of the season, and Brad Keselowski put the cap on a storybook season that saw him win his first Sprint Cup Championship, and the first for Dodge since Richard Petty was still driving. The Silly Season was officially underway.
Unfortunately, I don’t care much for Silly Season. I don’t care who sits at which table during the Awards Banquet, and I for sure don’t care if Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick are an item. Other than the Hall of Fame Inductions, I came for the racing. The racing starts this Saturday Night with the Sprint Unlimited(formerly, The Bud Shootout) from my favorite place, The Daytona International Speedway, and will signal the end of another Silly Season.
The most exciting thing on tap for the 2013 season is the New Gen 6 Car. I have always been a hater of the COT Car, and think it has largely destroyed good racing. The safety aspects of the COT were needed changes that came at the right time, but it was at a huge cost. The casual race fans who came to the sport in the late nineties, have went back to football, basketball, or wherever they came from in the first place. They represent empty seats that had butts in them before the COT.
The biggest thing the COT accomplished, was put five Sprint Cup Trophies on Jimmie Johnson’s fireplace mantel. It came very close to seven if you consider, he lost to Kurt Busch by only eight points on the front end of his run, and an early exit from the 2012 final race for mechanical problems at the end. I’m anxious to see what he can do with the new car.
As far as Ricky Stenhouse Jr, I think after two Nationwide Championships Titles on his resume, he was ready for a seat in a Cup ride, and as luck would have it, Matt Kenseth moved out of his just in time. Stenhouse has all of the talent an owner like Jack Roush could hope for, and should be able to compete at this level.
I can’t say as much for his new girlfriend. Danica was starting to run well at the end of the year in the Nationwide series, and probably needs another year or two before she moves up. She isn’t ready for a full time schedule in the Cup series, but with the deep pockets GoDaddy brings to the game, what else can Tony Stewart do other than put her on a fast track to a full time Gig. Unless she comes along quickly, Stewart Haas Racing will be buying starting positions and owner points from other teams to keep her in all the races.
The Gen 6 will take the racing out of the hands of the fuel management computers, and the tire experts, putting it back on the drivers to win races and championships. For that reason, I’m predicting good seasons out of Jeff Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. I know Jeff didn’t like the old car, and feel like Jr’s career started going south with the COT. I’m expecting good season’s out of the Toyota’s if the engines can hold up. I’m even going to go out on a limb here, and predict a Toyota will win the Sprint Cup Title this year.
My picks for this year is a fierce battle down the stretch with Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and Clint Bowyer fighting Jeff Gordon(no pun intended here), and Kasey Kahne for the title. The Lowes Chevrolet in the mix would not be a surprise.
Let’s kick the tires and light the fires. It’s time to end Silly Season go Racing!!
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